This is the second of a two-part conversation with Dr. Roberto Mezzina and Dr. S. P. Sashidharan that brings Season One of this podcast to a close.
Roberto joins from Trieste Italy where he served for 40 years in the Dipartimento di Salute Mentale, and most recently headed their world-renowned mental health system. Dr. S.P. Sashidharan calls in from Glasgow and both were part of a small delegation invited to Los Angeles in September 2018 to tour our systems as part of a collaboration between Trieste and Los Angeles County.
In this interview, we complete the recollection from their September 2018 visit to Los Angeles. They discuss a meeting that was organized with parents of loved ones with mental illness. We discussed how families are marginalized in the American mental health system and how traumatic that may be for all involved.
They also discuss their impressions from spending time with members of the Mental Evaluation Units for both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. In Trieste, the last entity one would call for a mental health crisis is law enforcement, but in the U.S., law enforcement has been pulled into this, not by their design. In this case, what they observed was compassionate and professional.
We also explore the closure of forensic hospitals in Italy and the transfer of individuals into small therapeutic communities.
Finally, we touch upon the respect paid in Trieste to human rights for people with mental health problems – a concept which is not particularly prevalent in our American system. And in this time of Covid, all people may be experiencing the pandemic of loneliness. Social connections are frayed; there may be lasting lessons and sensitivities that come out of this collective experience that may inform reforms in the future.
Dr. Roberto Mezzina, International School Franca and Franco Basaglia and former director of the WHO Collaborating Centre, DSM, Trieste, Italy.
Dr. S.P. Sashidharan, Institute of Health and Well Being, University of Glasgow.
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Technical support and podcast editing: Paul Robinson